Embarrassing? Yes. Unethical or unlawful? Yes. Make any difference? No.
There seems to be a strong pattern, more of a modus operandi, emerging about how this government goes about its business. The latest case, where the High Court found Michael Gove had acted unlawfully in awarding a juicy, half-a-million-pound contract for market research to associates of his, isn’t really anything to be proud about, and even someone so self-consciously shameless about conduct in public office as the cabinet office minister ought to be a bit shamed-faced about it.
But we all know that, through experience, ministers have learned there can be a considerable upside to pushing the limits of the customary conventions, rules and even laws beyond breaking point – but little, if any downside. Labour and the press (or parts of it) can shout “sleaze” as much as they wish, but there are no personal penalties to be paid by the ministers concerned, and, apparently, the public seem not to care. After months of scandal after scandal, the Conservatives are winning elections and enjoying double-digit leads in the opinion polls. If anything, it is the Labour Party that is suffering a crisis of confidence.